|After our 8 hour overnight bus from Lima, we arrived in Huaraz early in the morning and were greated with brisk mountain air and our first glimps of the impressive Cordillera Blanca mountains that overlook the city. We were a bit grogy after the long bus ride and after gaining so much elevation (Huaraz is at an elevation of 3,091 meters or about 10,200 feet). We huffed our way to the guest house (Albergue Churup) that would be our home durring our stay in Huaraz, and were offered a breakfast of deliciouse bread, tangarines, cofee and juice while we waited for our room to be ready. All in all, it was a pleasant way to begin our stay in the Cordilleras.
After getting settled, we began exploring Huaraz to get a feel for the town and begin planning for the many exciting items on our itinerary. Huaraz is not a particularly beautiful city, but it is an interesting place with friendly people, great views, and lots to do in the vicinity. It is a hub for trekkers, climbers and mountain lovers of all kinds from all over the world. Every other shop is a guide agency, offering every kind of adventure imaginable including rock climbing, mountaineering, trekking, rafting, mountain biking, skiing.... and more. Its easy to see why we concuded from the start that we did not budget enough time for this portion of our trip.
Aside from the citys alpine persuasion, there are plenty of interesting cultural aspects to the area as well. Ladies walk the streets and the central Plaza de Armas in traditional scurts with colorful sweaters, large brimmed hats and niños strapped around their shoulders in bright woven blankets. People sell their goods on the street, in small roadside tiendas, or in the large central market that houses food vendors of all sorts. We enjoyed buying aji (chili or salsa) from one vendor in the central market with all sorts of colorful options ranging from mild to picante. Although the city maintains these cultural aspects, its residents have access to many modern amenities, and there is a good mix of new and old.
Getting back to the main reason we made this stop, the Corillera Blanca Mountains, we were very excited to get our adventures under way. From the glimpses we got from town, the mountains looked beautiful and we couldnt wait to get closer. The Corillera Blanca are the highest mountains in the tropical zone, and Huascaran is Perus tallest mountain (greater than 6,700 meters). The peaks are huge and impossibly steep, covered in a laryer of snow that seems barely able to hold on to the precipitous slopes. They were so tempting, but as we struggled to walk up our hotel steps, we realized we might need more time than we originally thought to aclimatize. We decided to work on planning and aclimitization for two days in Huaraz before heading to the higher (4,000 + meter) stone forest of Hatun Machay for rock climbing and additional acclimitization before heading out on our trek in the Cordilleras.